by Rolland Cheng, NASM CPT and Dr. Adam Ward

Injury prevention is commonly overlooked, yet an extremely important topic at the gym or when working out at home. Whether you are an athlete, runner, power lifter, recovering from an injury, or just trying to get back in shape, an injury is the last thing you want.

Are you making exercise mistakes? The biggest cause of gym injuries is improper form. Therefore, it is vital to know exactly how to do every exercise properly. Done correctly, body weight squats can help build strength and tone your legs, as well as help tighten and strengthen your core. Done incorrectly, you’re looking at possibly doing serious damage, if not breaking down the structural integrity of your lower back, knees, as well as your ankles. A pushup or chest press done correctly can help strengthen and tone your chest, shoulders, triceps and abs. A pushup or chest press done with incorrect form can cause serious rotator cuff damage. If you do not know if you’re doing an exercise correctly, check with an accredited trainer at your gym.

The age old saying “No pain, no gain” is absolutely false. Yes, you do want to push yourself while working out, but if the exercise at hand hurts then you need to listen to your body and stop. The burn from your muscles working past their comfort zone is fine, but sharp pains are not.


Regardless of what your specific goals of working out are, a proper warm-up before the work out and cool down after the workout should always be done to prevent strains or pulled muscles/soft tissue injuries. Depending on what the workout is or what the goal is, there are a few different ways to stretch. Find out which is right for your workouts and make sure you add them in! Stretching options include:
  • Static: Stretches muscles while the body is at rest.
  • Active: Stretches and prepares muscles and tissues (non-force) for use during exercise.
  • Dynamic: Stretches that utilize speed of movement, momentum and active muscular effort.


Initially, many people sustaining “minor” gym injuries utilize RICE, the first aid treatment for injuries. REST – reduce activities and take weight off the injured area, ICE – 15 minutes on and 15 minutes off, repeat two or three times a day with a cold pack, ice bag, or plastic bag filled with crushed ice and wrapped in a thin towel (smaller areas, like the toes and areas with little padding require less time), COMPRESSION – apply pressure or a device (bandage wrap, sports tape, air cast) to the injured area and ELEVATION – place the injured area on a pillow or similar soft surface, at or above the level of your heart. The RICE method may be applied to a chronic re-injury or overuse condition when a flare up occurs. After the swelling has been reduced, the proper management of any chronic condition requires an understanding of why the affected area continues to be problematic.

It is vital to have an injury properly evaluated in order to determine the extent of damage – joint instability, painful joints, weak muscles and lack of mobility. After the evaluation, a customized treatment program can be created. Treatment options offered by an injury treatment center may include Pain Management, Physical Therapy, Chiropractic, Nutritional Support and/or Acupuncture.


The good news is that there are quite a few things you can do to prevent exercise mistakes and gym injuries from happening:

  • Have a structural, muscular and chemical evaluation to detect and correct imbalances.
  • Listen to your body and know your limits.
  • Warm up, ice a muscle or joint before warm up and cool down when finished (walk, jog or do some light exercise for 5 minutes).
  • Proper rest and recovery are essential.
  • Don’t over train. Begin slowly and gradually increase the time and intensity of your workouts.
  • Proper technique.
  • Balanced training  – don’t focus on just lower body/core.
  • Develop strong core muscles.
  • Wear supportive, proper fitting athletic footwear. Speak with a physical therapist to determine if orthotics may be recommended.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after an exercise session to prevent dehydration. Water helps flush away acidic waste products from the muscles, which can cause muscle irritation and pain. A body composition analysis – computerized scale, will print out an individual’s percentage of body water. Optimal levels are at 50 – 60%.
  • A healthy diet is essential – fuel for the body. Poor dietary choices can lead to chronic inflammation – increasing pain sensitivity. Daily supplementation of Vitamin D can help alleviate a deficiency and pain, according to recent studies.

For more information, please contact Rolland Cheng, NASM CPT from Retro Fitness of East Brunswick at (732) 937-8290 or visit www.eastbrunswicknj.retrofitness.net. To learn more about Dr. Adam Ward of Alternative Integrated Medical Services of East Brunswick, call (732) 254-5553 or visit www.aimsclinic.

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